Our house has two smoke detectors in it – one in the kitchen and one in the hallway near the bedrooms. Kevin and I were performing our semi-annual battery check and could not tell if the smoke detector in the kitchen was malfunctioning or if the batteries were dying. So we did what any logical, well-educated couple would do. We set a fire.
Our house is near Interstate 40, which makes travelling easy for us. We can just hop on for a few miles and get across town, or even head west to Memphis or east to Nashville. But sometimes I get confused about where I am and which way I’m headed. I come up to the interstate and panic as I try to think if I need to head east for two miles or west for two miles.
Sometimes I chuckle because east and west is all a matter of perspective. To my parents who live in Memphis, Jackson is in the east. But to our friends who have moved to Nashville, they have left us behind in the west.
No matter how directly confused I get, I like to think about the forgiveness of God as I travel east and west on the interstate.
Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
Stop! Growing with Jesus
That’s the current title of our Sunday School lessons with our middle school girls. We all had a good laugh over the importance of punctuation. Because “Stop! Growing with Jesus” is VERY different than “Stop Growing with Jesus!”
Yesterday’s lesson focused on the importance of listening to God. Just like our friendships are unhealthy when only one person does all the talking, so, too, our relationship with God is unhealthy when we do all the talking.
So we posed this question – How do you think God feels when we do all the talking and never stop to listen to Him?
And one of our girls quickly answered, “He probably just zones us out!”
As a child, I memorized the Ten Commandments. But it wasn’t until adulthood that I made connections to why those rules in particular are so important. Last night, I was examining the fourth commandment in particular – the Sabbath Day.
Most of the commands are succint. Exodus 13:13 has three short words, “Do not murder.” But explaining the Sabbath as the fourth command takes up four verses.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: You are to labor six days and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. You must not do any work – you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the foreigner who is within your gates. For the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.
– Exodus 20:8-11
I’m going to use a couple passages in Scripture to answer a few key questions about the Sabbath to help us better apply it in our lives.
Have you ever played Follow the Leader? Other than Red Rover, Follow the Leader is my least favorite game to play. Inevitably, the leader makes us copy goofy motions that force us to jump in place while tapping our noses and waving our arms. I never understood why I would follow a leader that made me look so ridiculous.
So when I heard that we are to follow Jesus, I wanted to know what type of leader He is. Mark chapter 8 helps us understand that the call to follow Jesus as our leader is personal, public, and imitates Jesus’ life.
The first 26 verses of this chapter showcase the authority that Jesus had while He was on earth. Mark retells the story of Jesus feeding 4,000 people with just 7 loaves of bread and a few small fish. We even read about Jesus’ ability to restore sight to a blind man. Then we get these verses:
Jesus went out with His disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the road He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”
They answered Him, “John the Baptist; others Elijah; still others, one of the prophets.”
“But you,” He asked them again, “who do you say that I am?”
Peter answered Him, “You are the Messiah!”
And He strictly warned them to tell no one about Him.
– Mark 8:27-30
This passage helps us understand that following Jesus is more than rattling off a list of what other people believe about Jesus. The call to follow Jesus is personal. Let’s look at the list His disciples made.